Galvanized vs Black Pipes for Natural Gas
Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that burns cleaner than other fossil fuels. It also has a lower carbon footprint than coal or oil. Yet, natural gas is often considered dirty because it leaks out of pipes during transportation.
Gas companies have long been concerned about leakage from their pipelines. They spend millions of dollars every year to prevent leaks. The problem is, they don’t always succeed.
“Black pipe” is a term used to describe the leaky pipes that are usually found underground. Galvanized pipes are pipes that are coated with zinc to prevent corrosion.
Black Pipe vs. Galvanized Pipe for Natural Gas
Natural gas is a colorless and odorless gas that can be burned in any home. It is commonly supplied by pipeline companies through large steel pipes called “pipelines.” Pipelines are buried underground and carry natural gas from wellheads to homes and businesses.
Pipeline companies use different materials to build their pipelines. One type of material is galvanized steel. This metal coating helps protect the pipeline from corrosion. However, this same coating makes it difficult for inspectors to see if there are cracks or holes in the pipe.
When natural gas travels through a pipeline, it seeps out of tiny openings in the pipe. These small leaks are referred to as “micro-leaks.” Micro-leaks may not seem like much, but when multiplied over thousands of miles of pipeline, these micro-leaks add up to significant amounts of lost gas.
Micro-Leaks & Leak Detection
The first step in detecting leaks in your natural gas system is to determine where the leaks occur. Inspectors look for signs of leaks at both ends of the line. If you suspect a leak, contact your local utility company immediately.
The next step is to locate the source of the leak. Is it coming from one end of the line? Or does it appear to come from several points along the length of the line? Once you identify the source of the leak, you will need to find the exact location.
You should then inspect the area around the leak. Look for evidence that someone recently worked on the pipeline. For example, you might notice fresh tracks in the dirt, tools lying around, or even footprints.
If you find something suspicious, call your local utility company. They will send an inspector to investigate.
Once the leak is located, the inspector will take samples from the ground. He or she will measure the amount of gas escaping into the air. Then, he or she will check the integrity of the pipe using instruments called “sniffers.” Sniffers detect leaks by measuring changes in pressure inside the pipeline.
Once the leak is detected, the inspector will seal off the affected section of the pipeline. This process prevents more leaks from occurring.
Why Galvanized Steel is Safer Than Black Pipe?
There are two main reasons why the black pipe is dangerous: 1) It’s harder to detect leaks because it absorbs light; 2) It corrodes faster than galvanized steel.
Galvanizing pipes protect them against rusting and corrosion. Galvanized steel is typically painted with zinc. The paint provides additional protection against corrosion.
However, since black pipes absorb light, they cannot be easily inspected. In fact, most people don’t realize that black pipes are actually made of galvanized steel.
Black pipes have been used for decades without incident. But now that we know about the dangers of black pipes, many utilities are switching back to galvanized steel.
Why Black Pipes are Preferred for Natural Gas than Galvanized Pipes?
In addition to being safer, galvanized pipes also cost less. Galvanized steel costs about $1 per linear foot (about half the price of black pipe). That means that replacing just a few feet of pipe can save hundreds of dollars.
For this reason, many utilities prefer to use galvanized steel instead of black pipes. However, if you live near a city or town, you may want to consider black pipe.
They are Cheap
Black pipe is cheaper than galvanized steel. You can buy black pipe for as little as $0.10 per linear foot. Most utilities charge between $0.15 and $0.20 per linear foot.
Black pipe is easier to install
Black pipe is easy to install. All you need to do is drill holes through the existing pipe, insert the new pipe, and tighten the nuts.
This is much simpler than installing galvanized steel. First, you must dig up the entire length of the pipe. Then, you must cut out sections of the old pipe. Finally, you must weld the new pipe onto the old pipe.
This makes black pipe ideal for smaller projects. If you’re only replacing a small section of pipe, it’s easier to install black pipe than galvanized steel. However, if you’re replacing a large section of pipe, galvanized steel is usually a better choice.
Most Houses Have Galvanized Water Pipes
If you live in a house built before 1980, chances are good that your water pipes are already galvanized. To determine whether your pipes are galvanized, look at the ends of your copper pipes.
The end of each pipe should be flat. If it has ridges or bumps, then it probably isn’t galvanized.
Can You Mix Galvanized and Black Pipe for Natural Gas?
Yes, you can mix galvanized and black pipe together. As long as you use the same size fittings on both types of pipe, you won’t have any problems.
However, there are some things to keep in mind when mixing these materials. For example, you’ll likely need to replace the caps on your black pipe.
You’ll also need to make sure that all of your connections are tight. Otherwise, gas could leak into your home.
How Do I Know Which Type of Steel My Natural Gas Line Is Made Of?
To find out which type of steel your natural gas line is made of, simply call your local utility company. They will tell you what kind of material is inside your pipe.
If you don’t like their answer, ask them why. Some companies might not want to admit that they’ve switched from black pipe to galvanized steel. Others might lie and say that your pipe is made of stainless steel.
Regardless of how they respond, you should still know what type of steel is inside your pipe. This information can help you decide whether you should change your pipe.
What Kinds of Fittings Are Used with Natural Gas Lines?
There are two main kinds of fittings used with natural gas lines: compression fittings and tees. Compression fittings connect one pipe to another. Tees connect multiple pipes together.
Compression fittings are typically used with black pipe. They are more expensive than tees because they require special tools to install.
Tees are typically used with galvanized steel. They are less expensive than compression fittings because they require no special tools to install. Ties are also easier to install.
Which Type of Fitting Should I Use With My Natural Gas Line?
It depends on where you live. In many places, compression fitting is required by law. These laws were put in place so that homeowners wouldn’t accidentally turn off their gas supply while working on their plumbing.
In other areas, such as New York City, compression fittings aren’t required. Instead, homeowners are allowed to choose between using tees or compression fittings.
Natural gas is an excellent alternative fuel source. It doesn’t produce harmful emissions, and it burns cleanly.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a reliable supplier of natural gas. The best way to ensure that you get high-quality natural gas is to buy directly from your local utility company.